How the Joint Health & Safety Committee Should Prepare for Workplace Inspections

Workplace inspections are one of the most important functions of the Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC). Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), s.9(23), the JHSC must designate a non-management member to inspect the workplace. If possible, the employee should be a certified member of the JHSC. To become certified, a member must complete JHSC Part 1 and Part 2 training. The employee member must inspect the physical condition of the workplace at least once a month (s.9(26)).

The purpose of the monthly inspection is to identify hazards and to make sure current work practices are safe. Workplace inspections determine:

  • If a hazard is present
  • Which employees are exposed or likely to be exposed
  • Any employees who have been subject to illness or injury
  • If established health and safety procedures and processes are being followed

There are four stages of a workplace inspection. 

  1. Preparation
  2. Inspection
  3. Reporting
  4. Follow-up

In this article, we’ll cover key steps for the JHSC member to take when preparing for an inspection.

Part 1: Preparing for an Inspection

Area-Specific Knowledge

Once the area being inspected is determined, JHSC members will require area-specific knowledge. Before the inspection, the JHSC inspector(s) should be familiar with:

  • Area workflow
  • What goes on in the area
  • Work processes used
  • Materials used
  • Any established deviations from safe work practices

Without a sound and solid understanding of what to expect in the work area, it would be difficult to recognize potential hazards or departures from safe work.

Common Inspection Tools

Some tools can help JHSC members conduct workplace inspections efficiently and productively. Common inspection tools include:

  • A Floor Plan
    A floor plan helps identify physical elements of the workplace, including hazardous areas. If a floor plan doesn’t match what the inspector sees, it needs to be reported.
  • Material Inventory
    Inventory of materials is a complete list of all materials with the potential to cause adverse health effects. It should include material by-products, controls, and all relevant safety data sheets (SDS).
  • Equipment Records
    The JHSC must have access to all equipment records before the inspection, including power sources, the location of guarding, maintenance schedules, lockout procedures, and/or pre-shift inspection and any other inspection reports.
  • Flow Charts
    A flow chart for any processes used in the workplace can help JHSC inspectors identify hazards by viewing processes in a sequence, rather than as a snapshot of what’s happing immediately.

JHSC workplace inspectors that are well prepared in advance of conducting an inspection will find the task of completing an inspection enjoyable, productive, and useful. Proper preparation will lend itself to better hazard identification, which has the potential to save a life

OSG Has Been Certifying JHSC Members For Over 20 Years

If you have questions about the JHSC’s role during or after workplace inspections, or how to identify common hazards in the workplace, OSG can help.  

OSG currently offers online JHSC certification for a more convenient and interactive learning experience. Learn more about how to get JHSC certified online.